Early Years

Expressive Arts and Design

Expressive Arts and Design

From 1st September 2021, the statutory framework for the EYFS (2021) states that educational programmes must involve activities and experiences for children, as set out under each of the areas of learning.

The development of children’s artistic and cultural awareness supports their imagination and creativity. It is important that children have regular opportunities to engage with the arts, enabling them to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. The quality and variety of what children see, hear and participate in is crucial for developing their understanding, self-expression, vocabulary and ability to communicate through the arts. The frequency, repetition and depth of their experiences are fundamental to their progress in interpreting and appreciating what they hear, respond to and observe.

Creativity plays a significant role in thinking and understanding across all seven areas of learning. If children’s thoughts and feelings are sought and valued and they are encouraged to decide for themselves how best to represent their ideas, explore possibilities, make new connections and solve problems, they are developing the skills for life-long learning and confidence in themselves, both as thinkers and as learners. The Characteristics of Effective Learning are essential in supporting learning and development in Expressive Arts and Design, empowering children to see themselves as capable, competent and creative learners. 

To be creative and explore, children need to feel emotionally secure so that they have the confidence to take risks. The quality of children’s indoor and outdoor learning environment is of critical importance in promoting their creativity and imagination. Early years settings can support children by encouraging them to explore and experience a broad, rich range of materials, media, music, stories, technology and design.

Provide children with:

  • continuous opportunities to experiment with inspiring and accessible media and tools
  • the freedom to make a mess and mix materials
  • space to create individually and collaboratively
  • places for display/labelling or opportunities for taking work home (take photographs of items that children choose to take home)
  • opportunities to make choices
  • the right help at the right time; ensure children are given sensitive and appropriate help when they ask or are struggling
  • support to develop mastery in a range of skills, techniques and safety rules
  • the vocabulary of feelings and opportunities to take part in activities that allow them to express their own feelings and emotions
  • opportunities to talk about and evaluate their own achievements

Value and respect children’s:

  • processes (these are as important as their end products)
  • new ideas and new or different ways of doing things
  • interests, thoughts and feelings

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